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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Italian Plant’s Abrupt Shutdown Stirs a Debate

Today's post was shared by The New York Times and comes from

Like it or not, Italy’s labor force recognizes that the long manufacturing slump may make factory closings inevitable. But this, they say, is no way to do it.

At the start of August, the 30 workers of Hydronic Lift, an elevator components company, wished one another well and left on long-planned summer vacations. But when they returned to work three weeks later, they found the gates bolted with chains and padlocks. The company has not disclosed its plans.

“Not to be emotional, but if a worker goes on holiday with the fear that he might not come back to a job, well, that can cause serious damage to one’s peace of mind,” Alberto Larghi of the metalworkers’ trade union said. “Events like this can ruin vacations for all workers.”

It was only the latest in a headline-grabbing series of factory closures in Italy that the metalworkers’ union, FIOM-CGIL, which represents the workers at Hydronic Lift, denounced as the “popular sport among businessmen in the summer of 2013: transforming the summer shutdown into a definitive termination, with no forewarning, taking advantage that the employees are absent.”

Summer sport is a bit of an overstatement; there have been only a handful of cases, including a factory near Modena where the boss moved the production line for electronic components to Poland under the cover of the August doldrums. But they have stirred a national debate in a country struggling to...
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